Is the Golden Dawn doomed?
Is the Golden Dawn doomed?

Is the Golden Dawn doomed?

I had an email from a person who I respect who works with the Rosicrucian movement in Germany. Very well connected, they seem to have strong links to the original Golden Dawn. They are also about to publish material which they claim will show that the Golden Dawn was a waste of space and will identify the real sources of magic and Rosicrucianism. Interesting stuff but the point was that the person was making a very valid point.
“When the head of a Golden Dawn order, like David Griffin feels that it is perfectly acceptable to order his group to attack a writer online there is something deeply rotten in the egregrore of the system,” he said.
His argument was that David Griffin is not the first, nor will he be the last because something within the Golden Dawn system encourages conflict. He was experienced in magic and did not think that it was anything to do with the fact that the rituals had been published. His theory was that because too many people who should not rise to the top have done so the Golden Dawn is completely tainted.
This mirrors another friend of mine in the UK who said something similar. Her view was that people were not receiving valid training within the Golden Dawn system. Actual understanding of the system was not difficult, but application of techniques was shonky. People were taking techniques that they only intellectually understood and were performing rituals that were going no where. She saw the flame wars within the Golden Dawn as symptomatic of kids playing with matches.
Both these people were opposite sides of the coin. The first was hard esoteric masonry and the other was hard inner magical. Both were writers and neither understood what I was doing with the Golden Dawn.
Too much Golden Dawn can be bad for your health
One of the reasons that the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea did not call itself Golden Dawn was to distance itself from the Golden Dawn and its flame wars. Calling ourselves Hermetic anything was not an option. The Golden Dawn was not the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn anyway and besides it was felt that we would be different from what had gone before in that we would emphase the magical training systems of the Golden Dawn.
The next thing that we did was to take the rituals and look at them from a magical perspective. Pat Zalewski did some stirling work in this regard and his Magical Rituals and Commentaries has proved vital to the approach we took. However we are not running the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea based entirely on Pat’s book either. What happened was as we researched and took the ritual down one way we found that it could be locked together slightly differently from the way Pat suggested. It was not that Pat was wrong, but because we placed emphases one thing and not another we had to do something else later on. Pats system is beautiful and elegant and fits together… but so does ours but in a slightly different way.
But what was interesting is that if you had the Whare Ra ritual in front of you, you would probably not notice any scriptural changes. What did change was the Inner work we did to expand the Z documents. These required work all the way through the outer order. Idea followed idea and we had to rewrite our version of the Z docs several times before it was sorted out. This ended up with a ritual structure which would satisfy my German friend or English friend they ever saw it being used.
Then there came the other inner material which started to construct the group and the order in its own image. This was the toughest bit for me because of my bad experiences with contacts before. But with the right safeguards in place this opened up a new dimension to the work and the training that we have to do.
In our second order tests and training are mostly magical and the process is fairly intense. By the time people have reached that grade they are expected to contribute. The oath is not loyalty to a person but to the work. A chief is expected to rule by consensus and not according to their own game plan. A contact might come through and say “this needs to happen” but if the chief does not believe it and neither to the group then decisions are not made.
All this has created something I really like and approach to magic which I feel is correct and balanced.
The Golden Dawn has been a cult for some.
So the answer to my friends was, yes the Golden Dawn itself would be rubbish if leaders take Regardie and do the rituals without putting in the proper magical and ritual work. But I think that it has a lot more going for it than other people see when they see the antics of some Golden Dawn leaders. But I can also see it is not for everyone. People who accept what their leadership says, without question, have no place in magic. Neither do leaders who think of making such orders.
Some Golden Dawns have been overtly racist
Certainly there are Golden Dawn groups out there who have members who are anti-Semitic or other non-christian religions, anti-women, anti-gay and yet they are allowed to go up the grades in some groups.
But that does not apply to a well run Golden Dawn group which works the system properly. Such a group can develop material and truly transform its members. Its leaders have to develop too because the material and the rituals cannot help but transform them.
This is why I am still involved with the Golden Dawn. Although it is also possible that our Egregore has few meeting points with most modern groups. We have a different name, a different philosophy and work pretty hard at the work. Some while I get that then then I will remain hard at work. 


  1. Sometimes people ask me why I an involved in a tradition with so much back-biting and conflict, but they are usually people who are watching from the outside, seeing only the disputes on the internet.

    What is not seen is the real work done behind the scenes, in temples or at home, by real magicians who have had their lives changed for the better by this system.

    What is not realised is that the Golden Dawn is a huge tradition, with multiple orders, groups and temples throughout the world, and that the vast majority of groups and members get on extremely well with each other.

    I have talked and worked with several people of several different GD orders, none of whom are at each others’ throats. We might sometimes disagree on ritual practice, but we engage with one another and share our knowledge and experience that we might all develop into better magicians. This is evidenced on various blogs and forums.

    If people see past the politics they will realise that there is a living, breathing tradition that is powerful and transformational, and ultimately a beautiful expression of magic. That is why most of us are here.


    P.S. Funny images and captions 🙂

  2. This is a fair and reasonable assessment, though I challenge critics to find any magical order (that is more than a few decades old) that hasn’t seen its share of disruption. Conflict often creates change, and thus new ideas are born. Without stirring up the waters now and then a system can become stagnated; or worse, a static and irrelevant museum piece.

    1. It depends on the conflict and what motivates it. Conflict within a group or even disagreements between groups can be a useful part of the process. If it is just personal attacks on other members of other groups who you perceive as rivals it rarely leads anywhere other than to pollute the system.

  3. Conflict happens in all groups, magical or mundane. We see it in Thelema, Theosophy, the various Rosicrucian orders, witchcraft and Paganism, etc. It’s a natural side-effect of bringing several people together, who have different ideas, backgrounds, ways of doing things, and goals. Ideally these differences can be worked out, or disagreements can be made amicably, but since we’re talking about human beings here, that is, unfortunately, not always the case.

    I think we need to be careful about judging an entire tradition, and those who work with it, because of a few bad apples.


  4. LDM

    You wrote: However we are not running the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea based entirely on Pat’s book either.

    Hmm… I own a copy of Pat´s “Commentaries”. From what I have seen, itß´s seriously flawed: there are some grave errors in the descriptions, especially of the Godforms being used in the Ceremonies. It´s to be taken with A LOT of salt, as it were…good you do not rely too much on that!

    You wrote: A contact might come through and say “this needs to happen” but if the chief does not believe it and neither to the group then decisions are not made.

    OK, so why are you not able to believe that we have a Third Order contact? Our Chief has this contact, and he arranged for the teachings to be integrated. WE did everything you claim is necessary to do. So your attacks on our Third Order contacts just became non-substantial. If only you cared enough to follow your own line of argument.

    You wrote:
    Certainly there are Golden Dawn groups out there who have members who are anti-Semitic or other non-christian religions, anti-women, anti-gay and yet they are allowed to go up the grades in some groups.

    Well, during the Conclave 2012 in Nevada we initiated two gay men and four women into the grade of Adeptus Minor. So this statement didn´t apply to the HOGD. Ah, your comment was directed to Zink? OK…

    V.H. Fr. LDM

    1. “Contacts” can never be human indeed it is pretty difficult to tell what they. You make humans into gods and put them above you is something which is asking for trouble. Placing people who are not even initiated into the system and saying “these are my secret chiefs” is a bit like appointing David Cameron to be President of the United States.
      Part of your problem David is you think you are important enough to enter my thought pattens and that everything is about you and your order. I dont think that Zink had this problem with initiating women or gays either. He needed the cash. But for a long time the ban on women, gays, foreigners and disabled people was common in esoteric groups. Now it is rarer but it still exists.

    2. LDM

      OK, you must be a VERY confused man, now calling me David. Matter of fact, I am V.H. Fr. LDM, and believe it(or not): I´m not David Griffin.
      I suspect you will now call me Daviod Griffin´s sockpuppet or worse. Well, I couldn´t care less. If only you had the bravery to NOT censor my comments.

  5. I frankly doubt that it is the Golden Dawn system itself that causes the problems, though I admit to having had collywobbles when I found out more about the history of it and saw some of the dubious methods used to establish it. It can and does have an effect on the practitioners who seriously work it and – if they are not careful – may lead them down roads that in hindsight they would rather not have trodden.

    The key is balance, as the Golden Dawn – like everything else – is a mixture of light and darkness. A student whose psyche is balanced and whose intentions are beneficent can gain greatly. Those who are unaware that their work is on themselves and that they bear a responsibility for what they do with what they learn may come unstuck. Yes – there are plenty of historical and contemporary bad apples who taint the system and those with whom they come into contact and their transgressions and excesses tend by nature to receive far more publicity than the fruits of the many who grow and progress in their work as it should be done. There are probably no easy answers to this but for my part I do not believe that it is right to damn a whole system because of such poor wretches.

  6. Pat Zalewski

    The Golden Dawn system is a process, not an end result, and processes do change with different times, places and differing cultural values. I disagree with Nick in the sense that the structure of the GD is a causal factor for its woes. Unstable people are a cause for its problems. The GD creates a them and us concept but the problem is since the rituals and teachings have been published the original barriers have been adapted to any lunatic fringe that wants to play with them. Nick mentions his own order which to a certain extent runs in parallel with the GD in ritual and teachings. If there is an embedded problem within the GD (which I doubt)a name change and slight variation of its teachings will not help shake the monkey off ones back, to use American expression.

    I know Nick you have had a raw deal but the problem is people not the Order.


  7. Apologies for the blatant, promo but from the first paragraph of By Names and Images: “Regardless of pronouncements (some of them nearly a century old) from some magicians that the GD was useful in its day, but is now obsolete, the tradition continues to be a living, growing one.”

    I too have wondered if “there is something deeply rotten in the egregrore of the system”. Many times. And many times I have thought about leaving this tradition well behind. I think it is a very dangerous system, as I explained here:

    These dangers are not in the vast majority of cases even talked about, let alone addressed fully. This is one of the reasons I like the approach of the MOAA and some of the quieter newer Orders, as much as I have seen. Nick’s book on forming magical groups shows a good understanding of these issues too.

    I also think the system as it existed at the time of the classical GD was in nascent form only. The magic was hinted at and rarely performed correctly. I was blessed to be taught by a mentor who had worked a lot of this through. Like the MOAA our Order needed to expand and create new sheets for the Z docs. The magical aspect that connects group with individual work throughout the entire Outer Order was also expanded, drawing out what was always there.

    Still, from the outside the GD must look pretty crap. So too however does Christianity, Islam and Judaism and I have met a few very wonderful ,deeply humble and inspiring mystics, Sufis and Kabbalists over the years 🙂 Most GD folk are wankers, sure, but not all. Thanks 🙂

    1. Actually one of friends told me that most of the occultists she met were arrogant wankers who talked about how important they were and what they knew but when you scratched the surface did not walk their talk. I think that some of that is to do with the fact that information is easy to come by where as it is still a difficult path to live.

  8. The magical group I’m part of has worked the GD equinox ritual for 2 and a half years… It’s been good for us, we liked it, and the energies suited the range of magical interests we had. This weekend, though, we couldn’t find our scripts or materials, our internet files were messed up, none of us remembered to bring the Regardie book. Near disaster! We found one damaged copy of our ritual file, and read through it on the spot, and created a new Equinox ritual for ourselves, on the spot. And then we did it — our new rite, inspired by the GD but not drawing its energy specifically from that stream or that egregore.

    Beautiful, energetic, awakening, sensorially and spiritually moving, deep, passionate. Renewing, harmonious. The only bits we kept of the GD ritual were LBRP and BRH… which we found so jarring that we’ve already begun devising new rites for ourselves to do what they did in the old rite.

    I think we’re all sort of moderately relieved to be out of the GD modality.

    1. The problem, in my opinion, is that there are too many reaching for magical power without taking the needed efforts to work on purifying the soul. From what I have seen in my time within GD studies is that magical power, or the illusion of the same, cannot be maintained within a person that is psychologically way out of balance. Further, without the proper foundation of inner harmony and peace it is a sure path to corruption.

      “Although magical virtues can indeed awaken into momentary life in the wicked and foolish hearts, they cannot reign in any heart that has not the magical virtues to be their throne.”

      The problem that naturally arises within all of us, even the best of us, is the ego and the obstacles to enlightenment that it creates, and sometimes the obstacles it creates for others. The ego can and does creates psychological imbalance, as well as impede personal and group development. I have, in my 15 years within the GD tradition, seen people brought to “power” because of their willingness to serve the ego of someone else in “power” or the group ego, and like a house made of cards they come tumbling down as their progress was nothing more than an illusion. Some are better at projecting and maintaining a false image than others, but I see living a lie has its inevitable consequences. The good news is that we are seeing change in the GD community, and hopefully these few people will one day not be a problem.

      I think it is vital that cooperative, honest, peaceful people in the Golden Dawn continue to demonstrate publicly that their is cooperation, honesty, and peace in the Golden Dawn so that those who strive on war and aggression to create a following become more clearly exposed. But there is no doubt that there has been an overabundance in the Golden Dawn since even the original order.

      Reading our history, we can really see that Mathers was an egomaniac. Is it no surprise that those who cling to Mathers as a magical god seem to follow in his egotistical footsteps? Mathers wasn’t a complete idiot, but we have just as much to learn from his many mistakes just as much as his successes.

  9. is there a modern consice version of philosophus? i cant stand all the thou and shall crap,

    i need simple explannations, not psychic mumbo jumbo, esoteric blocks and old hat,
    wheres the normal system in all of this, i dont even dare to consider what their talking about any more, i want simple consice readable information. do i want to know anyway, do i want to be an alchemist….is it worth it… is it possible to learn from this book 4=7…without losing your mind…why botherthe planet shabbathai denominatted from rest, because in this principle is offered the most desired rest.. what the hell am i supposed to remember, blah blah blah, ive studied my ass off to get here andf now have to become an anal retard to get further, no thanks, im going back to opting out of magick and accepting help from expensive others.

  10. Quite a fascinating series of claims from your “friend”. Bring forth the body of evidence!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily trying to discredit your colleague or start a flame war… I’m just making a point. My experience in the occult community has taught me to keep my filter on high. Many people will believe whatever they read if it suits their personal fancy or if they are uneducated or gullible and have been programmed to “buy” what they’re told. It’s often very easy to get a reaction from people, especially online. There is a great lack of critical thinking and self-awareness in people everywhere, and not everything written in print or online has merit.

    Lots of people claim to know what the Golden Dawn magic system is about, many with only armchair experience. The politics of any order does not change the aim of the underlying magical system. Some people are “occultniks” or “pseudo-occultists” who can relate only to the shallow, surface-level politics of Golden Dawn (or other occult) orders, but not to the deepness of the magical system itself. A few bad apples can taint what is holy, but those are to be seen for what they are and discarded in order to pave the way for a good “bunch”.

    The politics of any order must be separated from the magical worth of the system, and determining the worth of a magical system demands multiple levels of filtering by the individual. Each individual walks his or her own path. The aim of the Golden Dawn magic system is spiritual alchemy, that is, refining that spiritual, physical and metal led into corresponding physical, mental and spiritual gold. The aim the system is not just to obtain purity for one’s self, but also, to preserve and teach its methods of self-purification, while acting as a beacon of light unto the world. It is much like the duty of the Bodhisattva that we would give all of ourselves to give to others, so we must flee the night time and enter into the dawn.

    This type of self-giving love is an important part of our roles as gatekeepers, custodians and guardians of the Western Esoteric Tradition. As human beings, we are responsible for each other as well as ourselves. Humanity is a group self-improvement project, not just a group of dissenting individuals splitting into smaller and smaller fragments while attempting to unite with the divine. Israel Regardie published many of the Golden Dawn rituals because he knew that, although many would obtain and profane the rituals and their meaning, a few individuals who are like drops of water in the desert would obtain them and use them for their proper spiritual and humanitarian purpose. Everything comes out in the wash, and with time, they shall bring water to the sand. The magic of Golden Dawn is not about selfish power.

    As Dostoyevsky once said, “There is immeasurably more left inside than what comes out in words. Your thought, even a bad one, while it is with you, is always more profound, but in words it is more ridiculous and dishonorable.”


    Fr. Asar Un-Nefer

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